House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

Nicky Haslam

Cake, cocktails and Decorex: it’s the designer’s birthday

Nicky Haslam

September 29 2011
Nicky Haslam

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

The 27th signalled my 72nd birthday. But without time to reflect on the past 71 years, I am up and out, heading back to Decorex to meet the Tatler/Decorex competition winner. Tatler magazine offered one of its readers the opportunity to visit the show and get inspiration for their own home while in the company of myself and Colette van den Thillart. Jan Scott-Collier was the plucky prizewinner, and we whiled away a couple of hours with colours and chintzes, and chatted on a decorative scheme for her drawing room.

I head back to the office for a meeting with a Russian client before dashing out for a quick celebratory lunch with my beautiful friend Natalia Vodianova at The Electric in Portobello, where she typically ingenuously gave me a bunch of flowers she had hand-picked in the country that morning. Her limo purred outside to take me to the offices of Fabergé, the reformed company of the famous Russian jewellers, for a top-secret project. It’s all hush-hush for now, but will be sensational if everything goes to plan (but meanwhile I’ll give you a hint: it’s all to do with Mark Shand).

So from Russia and Russians with love, it’s back to the office for an office party; all staff birthdays are celebrated in the office, usually involving a bilious-coloured cake and fizz of some sort. The NH team gave me an antique tie pin which I had hankered after. I am currently having a suit made, which is copied from one that I spotted in a photograph of Barry Dierks, the 1930s architect known for houses in the South of France, who had an incredible taste in clothes as well as in romantic villas. One can hardly be blamed for wishing to emulate his style. High-waisted, pleat-front trousers with turn-ups and small, narrow, beautifully cut jackets – they give one a svelte silhouette, and the tie pin is the cream in the coffee to my retro look. I have had many compliments on these suits by Anderson & Sheppard and, what with 1940s back in vogue this winter, it’s gratifying to be on the pulse!

Early evening was spent at The Art Fund’s party for Michael Craig-Martin’s birthday – he’s far too young to be my twin – at the Whitechapel Gallery, where he had curated the exhibition. The whole art world was there: Charles Saumarez Smith from the Royal Academy; Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate; Jill Ritblat, whose nephew Matthew Slotover started Frieze; Cressida Connolly, who gave me a birthday present, a tiny volume of Baudelaire; and my cousin, Madeleine Bessborough, who owns a wonderful contemporary gallery called Roche Court in Hampshire. The evening was rounded off at the Wolseley: a dinner à deux with Colette, and à quatre Gibsons – lots of pearl onions, a little ice, not shaken and very, very dirty... I hardly stirred until 10am the next day.

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